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12: Drink Up Thy Zider, annotated - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
12: Drink Up Thy Zider, annotated
Alms for the poor

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The game was flagging, the chase was drawing to a close. In Troisvierges, the Head of the ICW was attempting desperately to burn, Vanish, Banish, or otherwise burke numerous ledgers and parchments.

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The game was flagging, the chase was drawing to a close. Al and Scorpius strolled nonchalantly into the drawing room, before the dinner gong. ‘I’m afraid we’re your hosts for the evening,’ drawled Scorpius.

‘Dad and my soon-to-be-stepfather will not be joining us,’ grinned Albie.

There was a moment’s dead silence before the assembled company rose as one, began casting Disillusionment charms on one another, and broke for the door to go and see the culmination they had so long and devoutly wished.

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The game was flagging, the chase was drawing to a close. In London, Sir Bennett Goldstein was looking forward to the Friday with mounting glee.

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The game was flagging, the chase was drawing to a close. The Wednesday and the Thursday – in which the house party at Aveline did not see their host, and found themselves Banished by strong wards to various orchards, mills, and piggeries if they tried to pry – were days of erotic delight and wonder to Draco. He had not imagined that sex with another man could be so satisfying: the hard planes of another male body, the hardness answering hardness, the intriguing feel of stubble and of chest hair against his own rather epicene cheek and chest: these excited in him wonder and the delight of a voyager in new seas.[1] And Draco had never been patient: he pressed on, for all Harry’s prudence, insistent upon learning all the ways of love between men. To his great good fortune, Harry, even in indulging him, proceeded with a tenderness and care that took his breath away. And he found, to his delight and wonderment, that: for all the fireworks that went off in his brain – a whole Weasley storeroom of them – when he took Harry: to be entered and possessed in turn, held and filled, comforted and stayed, was no negation of masculinity, but an affirmation. When, Draco realised with mounting wonder and gratitude, Harry was sheathed in him, Draco was as Harry’s much protector and shelter as he was protected and sheltered.

This was a new and grateful thing. He had had – or felt that he had had – to be a father to Scorpius, a husband to Aster: the head of a great house, the paterfamilias. His mother, though she loved him, was as remote as she was beautiful; his father had been a broken reed. To be able at last to surrender, to trust, to be cherished even as he was filled full or as he feasted his most sensual appetites, to be freed at last of the daily dust-and-ashes necessity of forever taking charge, worked wonders in him, and left him as sustained as he was sated.

Scorpius and Al had wagged their wise old heads – they were after all very young, and knew no better – and murmured at how their fathers had gone soft and romantic and had to wrap up straightforward shagging and rimming and oral in moonlit words. Draco, overhearing, had smirked, and, a few hours later, shocked them with a frank description of what he and Harry had been up to – ‘up to my duodenum, it felt like,’ added Draco, exulting in their dazed looks. Albie had merely whispered, ‘Go, Dad’; and Scorpius, unwisely, had said, ‘You’re a fast learner, Father, and no mistake.’ Draco had grinned his most shark-like grin: ‘I spent some years working at the intersection of Wizarding and Muggle finance. Amazing what one finds on the internet, isn’t it.’ With the delicious knowledge that he was at last to shock the prying little buggers into speechlessness, he added, as he walked away, ‘Now if you’ll excuse me, Harry owes me an extended bit of pounding me through the duvet.’

It was, therefore, a newly confident Draco Malfoy, no longer prey to worry and self-doubt and the crippling suspicion that his control of events was beginning to crack through, who presented himself, on the Friday, the Eve of St Margaret, half an hour before required, at the ancient and severe building that housed the ‘accepting and issuing house’ of Goldstein & Zabini, Private & Merchant Bankers, Purse Lane.

Before he had departed to face his accusers, Narcissa had taken him aside and pressed upon him a small phial – ‘I cannot imagine that you’ll want it, as I make quite sure that darling Harry has the matter well in hand; even so, well...’ – which could, at need, be opened and its contents downed with anyone’s seeing it done.

The setting was more like that of a State Trial than a commercial meeting. Auditors and Goblins attended upon Sir Bennett and the Board; the Minister was present, silent in a corner, and unobtrusively in an answering corner, yet clearly more potent and confident than the shrunken and deflated Minister, stood the Cabinet Secretary and the Governor of Gringotts. Members of the Magical Privy Council and of the Moot were present; so also were members of the British delegation to the ICW, and the current head of that body, as well as several foreigners of various conditions. There were not a few Weasleys present; Pansy and Blaise and Justin, Seamus and Dean and Hugo Weasley, were huddled in one corner with a man who could only be a Prewett of some description; a young Auror in mufti – James, surely? So it was – stood to one side, deep in conversation with Hermione’s bushy-maned daughter. Preening himself in conversation with the powerful was Old Slug. Of the Great and the Good present to witness the probable downfall of Lucius Malfoy’s son, only Harry Potter was visibly absent.

Through the long windows, Draco could see, towering over Polygon Alley to which it had given its name, the great church of SS Peter and Paul Agonistes.[2] Its ancient tenor bell, 56-4-19 of bawling bronze in A,[3] told out the hour, and as the last deep note died away, Sir Bennett coughed, dryly.

‘Let us begin. Mr Malfoy. You are aware of the allegations against you. Have you anything to say?’

Draco’s response was a perfectly calibrated compound of confidence and respect. ‘A good deal, Sir Bennett.’

‘Proceed.’

‘Not,’ said a very familiar voice, ‘just yet, Sir Bennett.’ There was a slight ripple in the fabric of the air, and Harry was revealed as standing just behind Sir Bennett’s chair at the ridiculously lengthy table. If any there had doubted the rumours regarding the Hallows of Britain, they were now disabused of their doubts. Upon Harry’s hand was the Resurrection Stone, whole and sound, and in that hand rested, in a loose and confident grasp, the Wand of Destiny. The Cloak that he had just emerged from, Harry folded over a chair he conjured, as Sir Bennett shifted his chair a pace or so to the leftwards. Those observing could be in no doubt that it was not Harry Potter in his retirement, but rather Field-Auror Marshal Sir Harry Potter MPC OM KCVO and all the rest, who stood there.

‘HM having appointed me, a Privy Counsellor, as Assessor in this matter, Sir Bennett has kindly ceded the direction of events to me. I very strongly suggest that no one so much as think of moving towards the door, by the way. You shall all of you now undertake an Unbreakable Vow never to speak of this matter again save as I permit or direct at the Sovereign’s discretion; I remind you that this is a matter of the security and defence of the realm. Mr Macmillan shall act as bonder for Sir Bennett’s oath, after which Sir Bennett shall act as bonder for all other oaths. Proceed, Ernie.’

Some five minutes after, the operation having moved with military precision, Sir Harry was ready to resume. ‘Right, then. As you were. Mr Aurelian Prewett-Furnival first. You, sir, are a principal in the firm of Millwright, Prewitt, Furnival, Prewett, Pruitt, and Bohun, Chartered Accountants?’

‘Indeed.’ Molly’s cousin was if anything dryer than Sir Bennett. ‘I am a Chartered Accountant, a Registered Auditor, and hold diplomas in Treasury and in Charity Accounting. I have various specialities and specialisations in the investigation of commercial fraud. I have reviewed the documents relating to Mr Malfoy’s accounts and clients, and am prepared to give my views.’

‘Please do.’

‘The fraud, as I have reconstructed it, was, in fact, quite surprisingly crude. I must here stress – as I stress to all of our clients with operations in the Wizarding world – that as a matter of simple self-preservation, let alone best practise, it is essential that all financial accountings be audited on a regular basis by auditors and chartered accountants who are, as am I, Squibs, or who are Muggles with a knowledge of the magical world, such as relations or connexions of Muggleborn Witches or Wizards. Muggle computing has long since evolved such that the swiftness, ease, and accuracy of Arithmancy is no longer superior to, and is indeed now inferior to, Muggle methods for manipulating large batches of numbers. Fortunately for the Bank, and for Mr Malfoy, the persons who attempted to perpetrate this fraud in Mr Malfoy’s name relied exclusively upon magical methods. So soon as the Confundus charms, potion effects, and runic rigmarole –’ here Mr Prewett-Furnival became exceptionally dry – ‘are removed from the records here at issue, this is evident. I was, I may say, rather stunned upon first reviewing those records, as the magical means employed to conceal the fraud simply have no effect upon Squibs or Muggles, and the extent and method of the defalcations was immediately and nakedly apparent to me. This, I may add, is precisely why it is that I consistently urge that audits should be undertaken by Magical and Muggle means alike.’

‘One moment, Mr Prewett-Furnival. Professor Slughorn. I think it is generally accepted that you are the leading scholar in Potions in our time.’

‘Well, I shouldn’t like to say that, but I suppose I am rather competent, dear boy.’ Slughorn was beaming with self-gratulation.

‘Quite. At my direction, you have been engaged in research on this head?’

‘And fascinating research it was, to be sure. Ably assisted by the portrait of the good Severus Snape – credit where credit is due, you know, and he’s really quite competent, all things considered, and remarkably tolerable as a portrait – I was able to isolate and then recreate what I am calling the Malaclaw Potion. Really quite ingenious, in rather a “brute cunning” fashion: the essential components –’

‘Professor, may I suggest you not anticipate what is certain to be the most important scholarly publication of the decade? I shouldn’t at all like you to be stinted of your just acclaim.’ Harry possessed a full measure of low cunning at need, himself.

‘Quite right! You were always a thoughtful young man, my dear Harry! Suffice it for now to say that for some months, Mr Malfoy was being dosed into insensibility and wretched ill-luck by his own office supplies – I am sorry to report that the culprit was the Ministry and Gringotts official bumf – and then there was, naturally, the area Confundus issue, and a triggering rune in the watermark on the forms supplied and required by the Ministry and Gringotts, which when triggered, as it could be from afar by a simple spell, made young Mr Malfoy’s books and records into, if I may employ a markedly homely phrase, a complete pig’s breakfast. Under cover of which, of course, untold sums could be, and were, siphoned off.’

‘I should here,’ interjected Harry, ‘declare an interest, as I am amongst the private banking clients whose funds were so affected.’ Harry observed, with interest, that he had never before seen a Goblin lose colour in quite that way (it was the same Goblin who had so hastily cast the spell upon Draco, one week before, to stop him speaking of the matter).

‘With all due respect,’ added Mr Prewett-Furnival, ‘I must take issue with Professor Slughorn’s use of the term, “untold sums”: I have traced every last Knut, I am pleased to say.’

The Goblin was not the only being in the room who looked a trifle ill.

‘Thank you, we shall return to that. Mr Clearwater, I should like a legal opinion.’

‘Perhaps the most reprehensible act we confront here – always saving and excepting the deliberate attempt to blame and ruin the perfectly innocent Mr Malfoy – is the theft from the accounts of what are in fact a number of charitable trusts. Legally, the most serious of the issues are, firstly, insofar as the Wizards responsible may be British subjects, treason in its strictest definition, and, secondly, insofar as the Wizards involved should not be British subjects, acts of espionage and indeed of, not to put too fine a point upon it, war.’

The room was deathly still.

‘Mr Prewett-Furnival. I shan’t just now ask you to opine on the responsibility for these acts, but for a simple auditor’s statement. Where is the money that was stolen from these accounts?’

‘With the nugatory exception of some rather minor sums – minor, that is to say, in the context of the theft of thousands of millions – that are in the personal accounts of several individuals whom I shall name, the bulk of the funds is in the possession and control of the International Confederation of Wizards.’[4]

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The game had been run, and the chase, successful. The remainder of the enquiry, under Harry’s firm and swift direction – and with the assistance of a goodly number of people who had long had no reason to like Draco Malfoy, which was rather a humbling thought for him – was in some ways a damp squib, for all its shocking revelations. Wittingly, Cormac McLaggen, and, unwittingly, Zacharias Smith, had been established as having participated in the fraud alongside the Gringotts Goblin, Snaffgrasp, in the interest of ‘elements of the ICW and of its European member states’, the purpose having been to force Britain to cede much of its sovereignty in return for a financial rescue. M and Mme Delacour, Mr and Mrs Krum, and their governments, fearful of the hegemonic aspirations of the ICW and the larger ministries of magic in Europe, had intercepted and copied incontrovertible evidence of the plot and of the thefts, the originals of which had been abstracted within the ICW itself by its equally alarmed and dissident Chief of Security, General-Major[5] Vodenicharov.

The contributions made – and tradecraft employed – by various Potters, Weasleys, and Old DA Members, Harry carefully did not reveal. They might someday want to do something similar, after all, and there was no reason to publicise their roles and methods.

After, Harry had asked Mulgerrik what he intended to do – the Concordat was clear in leaving the matter with the Goblins – about Snaffgrasp. The Governor of Gringotts had chortled, nastily. ‘That one shan’t trouble you again. If you wish to see him one last time, of course – dine with me tonight.’

Harry was not inclined to believe all the tales that Wizards told one another about Goblins and their fearsome ways, most of which, he suspected, were put about by the Goblins themselves, quite probably including one who had at some point read Screwtape.[6] Nonetheless, he politely begged off.

‘Of course,’ said Mulgerrik. ‘You are eager to take your Mr Malfoy home. I approve that, by the way: let me know when it is time to open a new marital vault.’ And, still grinning, the Goblin chief stumped away, leaving Harry for once nonplussed.

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The strife was o’er, the battle done.[7] Sir Bennett, with good grace and sincere regret, had accepted the immediate resignation of a vindicated Draco, and wished them every happiness. He had also asked what Scorpius intended to do with his life, and would he perhaps be interested in banking? Draco had smiled, and admitted that much as it pained him to confess it, the lad was old enough to make his own decisions, and he’d have him send Sir Bennett an owl on the Monday.

He and Harry had then Apparated straight to Harry’s bedroom, supine onto which Draco had forcibly pushed a bemused Harry, quickly divesting them of their clothes and summoning a phial of lubricant with two quick wand motions. With a positively savage haste, Draco prepared himself and sank deliciously down upon Harry, who was by now already hard as the turrets of Hogwarts and panting like a racing dragon. ‘Never again, Harry, never again will you fight my battles – or I yours,’ gasped Draco, as he furiously rode his lover. ‘You’re mine, at last, mine, damn you, damn these wasted years, and I am yours, and we fight our battles now, together – ahhh, Harry –’

The remainder of the night – without so much as a pause for dinner, roast Goblin or no – was a series of couplings, at first feverish, after, firmly tender, and throughout driven by the need to claim and affirm what they both now recognised as an unbreakable and inviolable bond.

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The strife was o’er, the battle done. The Feast of St Margaret dawned clear and mild. The light of the new sun poured into the Vale like the wine of consecration into a chalice, into the very Grail. A sleepy and sated Draco awoke to find himself inextricably intertwined with his Harry (Harry would say, in after years, that Draco asleep was like the Giant Squid), and squinted at the far too early blush of light.

‘Harry?’

‘Mmm?’

‘Why in buggery do you keep those bloody geese? They sound like the first act of Fidelio out there.’[8]

Harry tightened his hold upon his Draco. ‘I don’t keep geese. Those are not my geese. As I think we rather comprehensively established last night, we keep geese, and those are our geese. Now go back to sleep.’

Draco, reflecting happily upon the sheer jointness of their joint possessions, did just that. Outside, the apples swelled, taut with possibility, filled with potential.

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[1] Oddly, this is not Keats. I think it quite possibly TH White.

[2] Peter and Paul Agonistes – Paul Agon – Polygon Alley, and Bob’s your uncle.

[3] Suffice it to say, that’s a damned large bell. http://www.wdcra.org.uk/study/weight.htm.

[4] And here is the, ah, brand new key to the whole extended jest from the prompt: that Wurzels classic, ‘When the Common Market Comes to Stanton Drew’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhw-w0oEl5o.

[5] The Eastern European form.

[6] Roast Snaffgrasp with chips, in short.

[7] Hymns Ancient & Modern, No. 114: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/t/t368.html.

[8] Actually, Draco – who may be excused as being half-awake – is surely referring to the overture, specifically the horn parts.


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